First of all, sexual harassment and sexual assault are REAL.
Rape is not the only way to violate a woman. Sounds like common sense, right? Unfortunately, it isn’t for many.
Catcalling, whistling, and touching someone without their permission (whether gently or aggressively) all fall under the umbrella of harassment, but it doesn’t really register to a lot of men who believe calling out to a woman on the street is a form of flattery.
Recent videos have been released showing dads watching their daughters experience street harassment and men watching their wives and girlfriends endure the same.
As a follow-up, digital video storytelling network, The Scene has published a video of sons watching their mothers get harassed.
In the video, one adult son didn’t find it very upsetting that his mom was being harassed on the street.
“She’s pretty, alright? Obviously it’s going to happen,” he said.
He responded very lightheartedly to the men’s comments directed at his mom, but he did say he “hates” having to witness it.
Two teenage sons both expressed feeling really uncomfortable watching their mothers get catcalled.
They couldn’t understand why men would feel compelled to make commentary just because a woman walked by.
“It’s just creepy,” one of the teen boys, Max, said. “Like, if I was uncomfortable and someone kept saying that stuff to me it would make me feel like an object, probably.”
A mother from the video said she doesn’t even feel comfortable dressing up most days because when she gets ready she thinks about having “20 people on each block” ask for her number and it discourages her from wanting to draw attention to herself.
Although all of these types of videos aim to show men and boys that catcalling and street harassment are wrong, the efficacy of this method has been criticized because it really only helps them understand the experiences of women they are personally or genetically connected to.
This experiment inadvertently perpetuates the "empathy gender gap" by separating women these guys are close to from women who are strangers.
The video definitely creates context, but it can be harmful for men and boys to only see women as mothers, sisters and daughters first as opposed to valuing them as PEOPLE deserving of respect.
Obviously, a man or boy would be disturbed seeing another man objectify his mother but the goal should be to get him to understand that it’s just as disturbing to see any woman being degraded or harassed.